“So you think that if I had been a governess in Brooklyn I should have been so contented that I would never have come with Andrew and compiled my anthology of 6,000 loaves of bread and the lesser lyrics?”
But the volatile Professor had already soared to other points of view, and was not to be thwarted by argument.
“Of course Brooklyn is a dingy place, really,” he admitted. “But to me it symbolizes a state of mind, whereas New York is only a state of pocket. You see I was a boy in Brooklyn: it still trails clouds of glory for me. When I get back there and start work on my book I shall be as happy as Nebuchadnezzar when he left off grass and returned to tea and crumpets. ‘Literature Among the Farmers’ I’m going to call it, but that’s a poor title. I’d like to read you some of my notes for it.”
I’m afraid I poorly concealed a yawn. As a matter of fact I was sleepy, and it was growing chilly.
“Tell me first,” I said, “where in the world are we, and what time is it?”
He pulled out a turnip watch. “It’s nine o’clock,” he said, “and we’re about two miles from Shelby, I should reckon. Perhaps we’d better get along. They told me in Greenbriar that the Grand Central Hotel in Shelby is a good place to stop at. That’s why I wasn’t anxious to get there. It sounds so darned like New York.”
He bundled the cooking utensils back into Parnassus, hitched Peg up again, and tied Bock to the stern of the van. Then he insisted on giving me the two dollars and eighty cents he had collected in Greenbriar. I was really too sleepy to protest, and of course it was mine anyway. We creaked off along the dark and silent road between the pine woods. I think he talked fluently about his pilgrim’s progress among the farmers of a dozen states, but (to be honest) I fell asleep in my corner of the seat. I woke up when we halted before the one hotel in Shelby—a plain, unimposing country inn, despite its absurd name. I left him to put Parnassus and the animals away for the night, while I engaged a room. Just as I got my key from the clerk he came into the dingy lobby.
“Well, Mr. Mifflin,” I said. “Shall I see you in the morning?”
“I had intended to push on to Port Vigor to-night,” he said, “but as it’s fully eight miles (they tell me), I guess I’ll bivouac here. I think I’ll go into the smoking-room and put them wise to some good books. We won’t say good-bye till to-morrow.”
My room was pleasant and clean (fairly so). I took my suit case up with me and had a hot bath. As I fell asleep I heard a shrill voice ascending from below, punctuated with masculine laughter. The Pilgrim was making more converts!